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Talk While You Walk

June 17, 2009

Driving home from school today I noticed two little girls, aged about 10, standing a couple of  metres apart, one draped around a road sign, the other a lamp post.  They were facing each other and shouting so loudly into their walkie talkies whilst looking at each other that I could hear them through the glass of my window.  It made me smile.

A memory of a French holiday was awakened by the sight of those two girls.  We had gone down to stay in a beautiful gite in the countryside around Toulouse with some good friends, also a family of four.  Ten (then probably Six) had brought his set of SAS walkie- talkies with him.  We used these to communicate with the others in their car during day trips out together – they had a range of about 3km.  One of the CD’s in our   ‘Keeping the children amused during long car journeys to the south of France’  survival kit was a collection of vintage songs.  I called in the other party on the walkie-talkie and spoke in very quietly, hoping that they would turn the volume control right up, which they did.  Then I blasted them with The Laughing Policeman song.  I thought I was so funny but they just switched me off.

Actually, there is a line in that song that puzzles me somewhat:

‘So if you chance to meet him when walking round the town, just shake him by his fat old hand and give him half a crown.’

This, we are informed, will make his eyes sparkle!!  Was it normal practise back in the 1920’s to slip a quick one to the local bobby if you chanced upon him in the street?  If so, to what end?  Was it expected at every meeting?  Did everyone have to give the same amount?

I started to titter more when I remembered that French for walkie-talkie is talkie-walkie (pronounced phonetically, as in: ‘tall-key – wall-key’) and now I shall have to tell you, since we’re going up that route, that another foreign word that never fails to make me snigger even after all these years, is the German for exhaust pipe, which is Auspuff.

On holiday in Spain & France circa 1980, (Oh Lord – here comes a stream of them….) Best Friend, whom I had been allowed to invite in place of my older sister (who was far too cool and mature to go on holiday with Parents) discovered the follwing: Bum crisps; Pschitt! lemonade (which I think is still available today) and Titti ice lollies.  On the English translation of a restaurant  menu in Somewheresville, France during the same holiday we found some mysterious items including Straw Barries andTwo Frieds.

That was a good holiday, filled with adventure and discovery and now I shall relate one of those very adventures.

It occurred during a secret foray out of our tent into the centre of Beaune, where we were staying.  It was late evening and Parents were safely tucked up in bed in the camper van.  We were about 14 years old.  Once in town, we hit one of the numerous bars on the busy main square and got chatting to loads of different people.  One of them was a drunken, flea-bitten busker complete with guitar who, whilst serenading diners on the square, sent us round with an empty beer glass to collect for him.  Our compensation was to be a beer at each restaurant we managed to collect money from.  We didn’t enjoy that very much, though, despite raking in at least triple his paltry efforts, so moved on to chat to another couple we had met.  They were very friendly and claimed to be pilots and the owners of a small, two-man plane.  They offered to meet us in the same bar at lunch time the next day in order to prove that they were telling us the truth, although why they should care whether we believed them or not is beyond me.  The upshot of it was that we got to take it in turns to go up in their two man plane that really did exist.  I even flew right over the campsite and saw my mum coming out of the camper.  Later that day we were unable to resist relaying our adventures to Parents  just to see the disbelief on their faces.  ‘Don’t you remember seeing that little orange plane flying overhead when you stepped out of the camper this afternoon?  I was in it and I waved but you didn’t wave back…!’

It’s amazing when I look back at some of the things we got up to in our youth.  How did we survive?  More importantly, how can I make sure my own children won’t be so foolhardy?  I can’t.  One can’t know where they are all of the time once they reach a certain age.  The best I can hope for is that everything ends well and that I only find out after the event, à la two-man plane.   Sometimes I shudder when I look back at the situations I put myself into – I’m talking about the ones that I couldn’t possibly post here.  I’m sure we all have them.

On a lighter note, I would like to finish this post with some of the unusual names attached to people I have encountered over the years.  They are all genuine but you’ll have to take my word for that:

Ruud Diks, Mr R. Sole, Topsy Turvey, Mr Knickerbocker and Ms Banana.

Now as an experiment, I think you should choose your favourite and then, after you have voted, why not send me some of your own?:

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